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10 Myths About Nordic Living

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Nordic living and hygge are so often used together that we quite often think of the two things as being interchangeable.

But they are not.

For a start hygge is a word that was coined specifically in Denmark, although it's used throughout Scandinavia. It conveys a certain amount of cosiness and the enjoyment of simple luxuries like spending time with family and friends or having a quiet few minutes with a favourite hot drink. It's the quiet appreciation of the simple things in life that we already possess, or parts of our lifestyle and surroundings that we have not noticed the beauty of.

Nordic living does not always have the cosiness of hygge. It's a type of lifestyle that has more depth than hygge, that concentrates on health and wellbeing and is not always doing the things that come across immediately as the most comfortable option. But they are usually habits and lifestyle changes that will have a profound effect on our daily lives.

So in the spirit of that I want to share some of my own thoughts on the myths of Nordic living that I hear (and I hear them alot). Sometimes I simply smile and keep quiet, but other times I do like to voice my opinion (and if you know me, you will know that my opinion is always free and readily available! hehe).

Some myths about Nordic living (not actually 10, but 11 because I couldn't resist an extra!):

You need to have Nordic heritage to live Nordicly

Well of course you don't. And I am sure that many of you reading this are like me and have no Nordic heritage whatsoever. You don't need to hail from the Nordic countries to live a Nordic life in one form or another and you don't need to currently live in a Nordic country for the same. We can embrace aspects of Nordic living wherever we are in the world and in whatever form we find fits best with our lives.

Fluffy blankets

We love a fluffy blanket in the Nordic countries as much as the next country and sitting under a fluffy blanket in the autumn or winter whilst reading book or watching TV is very welcome. But the idea that making your life Nordic with fluffy blankets and candles alone is never going to work.

People in the Nordics are always outside

I am the biggest advocate of "friluftsliv" (outdoor living Nordic style) ever, but life is not spent entirely outside in the Nordics. It's a health benefit that is widely understood and cherished, but life goes on inside as normal too.

We burn candles all the time

Yes, OK, people in Scandinavia do love a candle or two, and they are especially welcome in the long winter evenings. But they are by no means the start and end of making life cosy.

We drink gallons of hot chocolate

Did you see my recent hot chocolate post and the ensuing backlash? "Hot chocolate gate" is what we're calling it (thanks for coining that phrase, Laura!). If you saw it you'd know why I am including this one! Some people who read my post thought that I was implying that drinking hot chocolate made you Nordic. It's funny, isn't it! There certainly is a misconception that everyone in the Nordics drinks hot chocolate in the winter. The weather is cold and a few extra calories are what your body often needs, but we enjoy plenty of other hot beverages too like coffee (people in Scandinavia drink ALOT of coffee), tea and fruit teas.

It's always winter

On the odd occasion when I read forums and Facebook pages about travel to Scandinavia there is inevitably a post about seeing snow in the summer. If you look hard enough you will always find snow at the top of a mountain somewhere (we have walked on snow in central Norway on 5 July), but we have some wonderful warm summer weather in the Nordics too.

We cook everything over an open fire

Bålpanne cooking (cooking over a camp fire) is a fun and very Nordic activity and especially in the winter when we have no restrictions on open flames in the wild. But we cook on conventional ovens too...inside!

It's all about wool

There is no doubt that wool is a very popular material in the winter. It's fantastic at keeping out the chill of a winter day and I am sure that there are people who live in wool sweaters pretty much all the time (like Frank from Danish docudrama Det Gode Bondeliv), but we would seriously overheat in most of the summer months if we wore wool constantly.

Nordic people are always skiing

Let's face it when it comes to skiing in sports events, the Nordic countries wipe the floor with the rest of the world (with the exception of Slovenia) and there is a joke that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet. Many people learn to ski at a very early age, but not everyone skis.

Everyone eats fish and seafood everyday

In our family at least this is most definitely not the case. I could eat fish everyday but I am not Norwegian so I don't know if I count! Andre, my partner, and our kids are not huge fans of fish and in many homes meat like beef or pork are more often eaten.

Everyone lives in a log cabin

Most homes in Norway and Sweden are made of a wood frame with wood panelling on the outside. Modern built homes have some of the most state of the art insulation and heating systems, but wood cladding is still used on the outside and it blends beautifully into the environment around. It's also considerably less damaging to the environment than materials such as concrete. However, the ideal of a log cabin in the forest is a long way from the truth of daily life in Scandinavia.

So do you agree with any of these things? And have I dispelled some myths about Nordic living?

I'd love to hear your views and opinions in the comments.

For more of my opinions (I jest!)... for more Nordic living I'd like to invite you to join me on my Facebook page Living a Nordic Life where I share the simple Nordic life my family and I enjoy in southern Norway.

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